Resin and nail polish – Using nail polish to color resin

what happens when you use nail polish and resinWhat happens when you use resin and nail polish together?

Confession time.  I have this weird quirk about needing to buy stuff from the bargain bin of stores and try to use them in resin.  It’s like I’m imagining myself on one of those cooking shows and have to use a specific ingredient in a dish.  I have taken that to the resin studio and try to challenge myself every chance I get.

In a recent dollar store trip, I found some nail polishes in the bargain bin and decided now was the time to try them in resin.  The basics of the two-part experiment went like this:

I mixed 1 ounce total of Resin Obsession super clear resin.

For Part A, I put approximately 5 ml of mixed resin into 4 different one ounce plastic mixing cups.  I added opaque polish colors to two of the cups, whereas I added clear polish with glitter to the other two cups.  I poured the resin into a plastic teardrop mold.

For Part B, I poured the rest of the mixed clear resin into our domino size silicone mold.  I poured drops of 4 opaque colors onto each cavity of wet resin.  Unfortunately, the clear polish with glitter was too thick to pour.

 



The results

nail polish mixed with resin

The final demolded charms are shown with their corresponding polishes.

pink and red teardrop charms

The nail polish did not want to mix with the resin.  It immediately started to clump and these clumps did not dissolve.

Note:  Since I’ve published this article, a few readers suggested to mix acetone with nail polish to thin it out before including it in resin.  While I haven’t tried it, if you do this, please know it may affect the curing and is flammable.  Use caution if you are using a torch to pop bubbles in the resin.

pink and red teardrop charms backlit

You can see better when the charms are held up to the light that there are flakes in them, especially in the one on the left.

teardrop charms colored amber with glitter

The results of using clear nail polish and resin were awful.  It turned the resin yellow!  I know lacquer will turn resin yellow, so in this case, clear nail polish likely has the same ingredients and properties.  Definite fail!

nail polish dripped onto resin charms

Dripping nail polish on resin got me somewhat better results.

pink and red nail polish on charms

The pink and red colors left pretty dots on the resin surface that matched their original colors.

blue and teal nail polish on clear charms

The blue and teal nail polishes left some weird feathering.  I would have liked these better if the color had been consistent like the pink and purples above.

So here is what I learned about using resin and nail polish

  1. 1.  Mixing nail polish with resin is not an effective way to color resin.
  2. 2.  Dripping it on wet resin can add color and interesting effects.  Quite frankly though, I liked the results from using alcohol-based ink colors better.  (See my ink drop pendant tutorial.)
  3. 3.  Painting colored nail polish on cured resin looks like it would be a good option for coloring resin charms.
  4. 4.  Clear polish should definitely not be used to color resin.  After seeing it turn yellow quickly, I’m not sure I would use it to paint resin charms either.

Overall, colors designed for resin give the best and most consistent results.

What have you learned using resin and nail polish?

If you want to see more of how I did this experiment, you can watch the video:

 

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2020 Resin Obsession, LLC

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38 Comments

jasmine

Try using it with Gel polish. 🙂 You can get really cheap gel polish of ebay (they’re too lousy to use as proper nail polish) but they cure in UV light and so you can likely use it in some combination with Resin. You can also fill the mold up in gel polish and cure it entirely without resin.

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Gayle Reichelt

Good article. Frankly, why would an artist want to use nail polish to colour resin when there are so many good artist quality powders, inks and pastes available to colour resin? Why use an inferior product? The same goes for using things like eye shadow. Why would you even want to.

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Jade

You’d want to because the nail polish and eyeshadow can be as low as $1 each rather than $12 or more for alcohol inks, pigment powders, etc. Some people simply cannot afford professional materials. That should not exclude them from enjoying this art form, and with a little experimentation to figure out how to make their accessible materials work it doesn’t have to. I’ll also point out that the only difference between pearlex powders and eyeshadow is packaging/marketing and a little filler like cornstarch. They function in the exact same way.

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Toni

I’m all for experimentation. As long as it is safe, and cheap. I am obsessed with this form of art but the cost of materials has held me back. My other obsession is unusual insects, and mounting them in resin shapes, to preserve them and use them as decoration. Thank you for all this information. Toni, Australia.

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Frank

Hi Toni I’m from Sydney. You can buy casting resin from Bunnings at a very good price but it is harder to use the catalyst comes in a concentrated form and is measured in drops. Make up a couple of experiments once you work out your formula its straight forward it has an an advantage as you can speed up set up time by adding an extra drop or two. Good luck

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Samantha

I’ve also used dollar-store pearl eye shadow in my resin. Works like a charm! I’m wondering how to seal the bottom of my skulls (besides using resin), and was wondering what the best UV top coat nail polish would be best and last a long time?

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Megan

I use nail polish all the time 3 drops w 50 ml of either hardner or resin and mix througly before adding the other and if I dont like the color or not brigjt enough I ad it by a drop till happy but dont do it in dixie cups bc it will eat thru the bottom alot if not 60% of my projects I use n 1 to 3 colors that r just nail polish or w colorings too ….maybe its the brand you use i noticed the cheap dollar store nail polish doesnt paint you nails well it to watery and sux I can only imagine why but thats probably why it didnt work 4 u but I use revelon in kaoki and anything from walkmart wand walgreens work I use even the jelly highlighter and blushes at Walgreens in a lil plastic thing. All look beautiful

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Kitty Tripp

I have used nail polish for years to paint the edges of the photos I put inside bezels and cover with resin. I love the way a thin outline of chrome or golden glittery polish sets off the image inside the resin. I have never had any of them turn yellow or go off color in over 4 years. I have examples up on my facebook and etsy pages for Glitzy Gull – it really adds a nice touch.

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Polly

I agree absolutely with Jade here. Besides which, it can be really interesting to experiment, provided you are sensible of course, with different media and see the results. It can be an education in itself. Additionally, someone somewhere started out and discovered all the best and ‘simplest’ methods by experimentation in the first place…..now where did I put those out-of-date food colourings ……….

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Nicky Raynard

I know you said the results were awfull with the clear varnish but i think it looks nice. Well worth a try for sun catchers perhaps?

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Ptarmigan Emery

So glad I found this page. I just used a metallic nail polish to paint the sides of a wood knot hole. I let it dry and then filled, almost to the top, with colored resin. I plan to finish with a clear coat on top tomorrow. Hoping it looks like it did when I left it.
So maybe mixing isn’t the best use. Maybe layering would work…

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Rhonda J Hunter

I have been using clear nail polish as a glaze on matte resin to put a shine on it, when I was out of my “good stuff”, and no complaints of yellowing (yet!). I like the color yours turned, it’s sort of like amber.

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Hermione

It works great for painting the back. Don’t thin polish with acetone, thin it with Orly nail polish thinner.

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Mary Tomlin

I have been using nail polish with resin now for a while. I don’t put in the resin though. I dip cured resin shapes in nail polish and water as in when you dip nail in a bowl to get a swirling effect. I have been getting exciting results and customers love them!
Usually use 3 colors in shallow bowl for dipping with nail polish. I also like the color glaze.

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Patricia

I have been thinking of using nail stamps on some of my resin pieces. Thank you for this and thanks to all who posted the positive results of painting cured resin with nail polish. This will add a whole new dimension to my work.

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Miriam

I have some tiny bottles of ink from my older printer, is this alcohol ink and can I use it in resin.

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Abby

I Love the nail polish idea!! I have a sinful colors brand in purple at Walmart. Love deep dark colors! So I’m now Curious Mrs Katherine have U tried to: 1)Add a thin layer of resin, let it cure 2) Add the nail polish 3) I’d do that hot pink U used with MY sinful purple,& swirl ‘em with a toothpick, let dry!! 4)& finally do a 3rd coat of resin & cure, maybe add a-bit glitter too as it cures. & you’re done! Have U thought of that? Let resin cure, then do polish Katherine? I’ll hope to Hear from U.👍🏼

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Ed Bayani

If I embed an artifact painted with nail polish, would the polymer resin dissolve or have a yellowing effect?

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Tracy

I attempted to mix nail polish and resin and while mixing other cups of color (not nail polish) and got to the nail polish and resin to mix up that color, the bottom of the plastic cup fell out from the reaction that had occurred. I still want to try it but we’ll see!

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Dave

what about using nail polish as a paint. with so many colors i would think it could be interesting to use as such

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Robyn

has anyone ever used acrylic paint ( like the kind you use to paint on canvas with ) mixed in with resin? and if so what were the results?

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Katherine

Oh Katherine, I love how you have a resin response to everything. Like there isn’t a resin question you haven’t already posed and answered – if even just for yourself. You’re fantastic! 🥰

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Michelle Garnaut

Hi Katherine, just starting to play with resin and was wondering how emollient beauty products like lipsticks and cream makeup and blushes would go being encased in resin? Would they have issues in regards to degeneration? Wouldn’t be using them to try & color the resin. Any advise, much appreciated. Hope all safe & well over there

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Katherine Swift

Hi Michelle, I don’t know how well lipstick and creams will do in resin. Resin doesn’t like oils, so it may separate.

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Michelle Garnaut

Thanks Katherine for the advice about possible separation. Might give it a trial & let you know how it goes. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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AndreaD

Something to keep in mind when experimenting with dollar store products is the age of the product. I know they typically are not given a “shelf life” but older bottles of polish that have been sitting for a couple years require more mixing time to ensure all of its compounds blend thoroughly. The better mixed, the better the polish is able to blend into and with the resin. Similarly, to the way it looks when you put it on your nails. Old polish doesn’t look near as nice as a brand-new bottle of polish or one that has been appropriately shaken/mixed.
So, there will always be some level of uncertainty due the unknown factors of dollar store products, i.e. age.
Regarding eyeshadows: less expensive products are made with a lower amount of base pigment so the quality of the color is reduced and has more “fluff” or “filler-like compounds” that cost less than 100% pigment, which reduces the color quality and because we really don’t know what the fillers are made of, they may cause a negative reaction when mixed with a foreign compound such as resin.
Just the first thing I thought of when you mentioned bargain bin…I LOVE bargain bins and I too never leave a store before checking them out. LOL You just never know when you’ll find that treasure, right? Nice article, thanks for absorbing the expense to conduct such an experiment…saves the readers! Nice of you to share. 🙂

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Katherine Swift

That’s a great question Faith! I don’t know. I haven’t tried those.

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